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50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2020

An Interview with Haniel J Lynn, Kastle Systems CEO: ‘We Don’t Just Sell Systems but Design, Install, Monitor, and Maintain them for the Long Haul to Ensure they Operate to Clients’ Specific Needs’


“We try to identify new societal behaviors beyond security that technology enables and then think about how we can integrate them into our service.”

Being able to monitor the activity within an office or a resident apartment building isn’t always as easy as it seems. Though the right security system has the power to catch criminals.

Security Systems more importantly only allow access to approved individuals, record what individual enter and exit, enable administrators to grant different access rights to different management levels or user types, track occupancy and capacity.

In light of the foregoing, we’re pleased to present Kastle Systems — a company that manages security systems for thousands of buildings and workplaces.

The company was incorporated in 1972 and is headquartered in Falls Church, VA.

Haniel J Lynn, Kastle Systems CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

Kastle Systems launched operations with the mission of providing a more effective, efficient, and convenient approach to securing commercial properties. The idea for Kastle grew out of a need expressed by commercial real estate owners in the DC area for an outsourcing solution for the management of their security issues to a vendor with real security expertise so they focus on running their core business. Initially, we just focused on servicing this commercial real estate community and its tenants. We have expanded over time to additional verticals such as residential multifamily, enterprise businesses, education, construction, and more. We have also expanded to offices across the United States.

Q. How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.

In 1969, our founder, Gene Samburg, worked for Westinghouse in Washington DC and was asked to install a security system for the White House during the Nixon Administration. The Secret Service had very exacting demands and did a deep threat scenario analysis with Gene, well beyond any standard approach for a typical client, and Gene engineered the tailored system for them which was highly successful. Westinghouse was pleased to have designed such a sophisticated system for such a high-profile client.

Two years later, a commercial property owner friend asked Gene to use the same “tailored-design” approach as employed by the Secret Service for several of his buildings in DC that were experiencing on-going theft problems. Westinghouse was reluctant to pursue such a tailored solution for a “typical” office building client when they felt offices were too difficult to secure and spend so much effort in customized design. Gene left Westinghouse to take the project, took the time to understand all the security issues facing these office buildings, and created a tailored design to meet the exact requirements of the client. This was how Kastle began and this “tailored design” security approach remains one of the key principles of Kastle’s “managed security” strategy that differentiates the company in the world of security services. We don’t just sell systems. We design, install, monitor, and maintain the systems for the long-term to ensure they operate to the client’s specific needs.

Q. About adaptability, how do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this highly volatile market?

Adaptability to change is at our core. It has to be in a world where change and risks are constantly evolving and accelerating. We view ourselves as a technology company that happens to be focused on physical security. As such, we look for innovations in other industries for disruptions that may inform how people’s innate behaviors can be simplified or made more convenient.

We try to identify new societal behaviors beyond security that technology enables and then think about how we can integrate them into our service. Through our innovation, we look to create an experience that is truly convenient and effortless in our products and services. We also partner with other companies that are more focused on specific needs outside of Kastle’s core operational strategy to deliver a differentiated combined experience. For example, we have partnered with occupant experience apps to leverage their expertise in targeted market segments where we can add our access control and security service to their platforms.

Q. How does your company contribute to the competitive global IT platform?

The realms of physical and cybersecurity are converging which presents a global challenge that we are well-positioned to address. Our physical security heritage combined with our strong background in technology allows us to play a powerful role in an increasingly risky world. We are simultaneously striving to leverage the openness of IoT to enable physical access control to be an easier, more open user experience across technologies, cultures, and geographies while also using the power of cloud-based computing, robust encryption, and data intelligence to make the world more secure.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

KastleSafeSpaces has just been launched to get Americans back to work and will continue to integrate with new broad-market testing and screening technologies as they come to market.

Kastle has developed a comprehensive and innovative solution, KastleSafeSpaces, which employs touch-less physical access control , video analytics technology, and thermal imaging to integrate with virus-screening and contact tracing processes to enable administrators to confidently roll out a safe return to the office. Existing Kastle access control systems can be used to implement many of the elements of this new framework.

Kastle’s approach focuses on integrating technology with new processes to immediately accelerate solutions to address four major “shifts” happening within buildings. These shifts that are enabled by this solution include:

Shift One: Everything is Touch-less

Shift Two: Screen In/Screen Out

Shift Three: Occupancy Monitoring

For Contact Tracing

Shift Four: Social Distancing

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

This goes back to our core principle of being adaptable. We build our systems to be “future-proof” so that our clients know that our products, services, and technology will be with them for the long haul. They can feel confident that their access control decision today will evolve with the future and not become outdated. We know buildings, technology, and security threats will change, so we build our systems with “open” platforms, where the software is designed with “open” interface application that can flexibly integrate with future technologies without a change in hardware infrastructure, so the system is sustainable over time.

So, we see ourselves still serving our clients in the future. But we also are willing to partner with new “aggregated” platforms like occupant experience applications and building management portals, where, because of the open nature of our software, we can “plug-in” the Kastle access control service into the partner platform, such as with Rise Buildings, or RealPage Property Management solutions, where Kastle is an added operation on a menu of property management functions such as rent payments, HVAC controls, amenity scheduling, and more.

As future buildings become run by smarter systems over IoT networks, our Access Control service will be increasingly better positioned to be a valuable service because of our open, but highly secure, technology.

Haniel J Lynn: A Bankable Leader

Haniel J Lynn serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Kastle Systems. He joined Kastle systems in 2018 with more than 25 years of global operating and executive management experience growing and scaling enterprises from startup to $1 billion. Mr. Lynn has the unique ability to oscillate between high-level vision and tactical execution while inspiring a culture of teamwork.

Mr. Lynn spent 16 years at CEB (now Gartner) and served as Group President of its Best Practices & Decision Support business and member of the company’s executive leadership team responsible for product strategy, direction, and operating a $600m business globally.

“We are striving to leverage the openness of IoT to enable physical access control to be an easier, more open user experience across technologies, cultures, and geographies while also using the power of cloud-based computing, robust encryption, and data intelligence to make the world more secure.”